Teen Services opens Transitional Living Program in Biddeford

The sun is peaking through the clouds on an overcast March day, and boots can be heard squishing and squealing in the muddy ground. The Preble Street Teen Services team move furniture into the building that will become Preble Street’s new site-based Transitional Living Program (TLP) for youth in Biddeford.

The staff smiles and laughs, as they assemble bed frames, unroll bookshelves from their bubble wrap cocoons, and make beds for the incoming youths. The building has three apartments and will accommodate up to six youths once filled. Watching everyone at work, their smiles and laughter convey how excited and ready they are for the first young person to move in on April 26.  

This program is a first for Preble Street and for southern Maine, as it is the first low-barrier, site-based Transitional Living Program (TLP) for youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the southern Maine area. The Preble Street Teen Services program began with the Preble Street Teen Center and Shelter in downtown Portland, which offer low-barrier access to food, shelter, basic needs, casework, and other services for youths ages 12-24. However, Teen Services work has expanded in recent years, providing outreach in 11 out of 16 Maine counties and offering housing services, like Transitional Living Programs, which help youth transition to independent living. This location in Biddeford will be the first site-based TLP, with a regular staff presence from an on-site case worker.

This building will include a dedicated office space for case workers, which will adjoin two of the three apartments. Director of Teen Housing
Services, Amanda Morais (she/her), explains that youth “can expect a case-manager there every day, including weekends… We’ll be a door away from people when they need something during the day.” The additional layer of support provided by the on-site staff and services will help people transition into the space, then focus on building the independent living skills necessary to live on their own after graduating from the program. Amanda says too that this program offers the “opportunity for our management, including me and our two supervisors, to get to know the youth really well.” The youth will receive multiple levels of support from staff across Teen Services. In summary, Amanda says, “Having a site-based model allows for even more intentional community building and access to staff. It’s a higher level of support, and we can serve people who have a higher level of need.”

“Some people might be parenting or trying to stabilize from a previous instance of homelessness. They might have even lived independently before… the goal is to provide the basic needs and supports, so they can stabilize. For others, it’s their first try at living independently, so it’s a mix of experiences that people will bring to the building.”

With this site-based TLP, Preble Street is joining a host of other youth providers in York County and Biddeford, coming online to support to homeless and at-risk youth in Biddeford. “As a city, Biddeford is really interested in providing different levels of support for homeless youth,” says Amanda. Indeed, the City of Biddeford, the Housing Authority, and the City Codes Department were all crucial contributors, who made this project possible. Among many things, they helped to identify the building, which is intentionally located down the street from the high school and other youth providers in Biddeford.

Each tenant will live in the program for a year’s time, and upon graduation, if they so choose, will celebrate their completion of the program, with a ceremony with staff and other providers. Everyone will receive a personalized gift at graduation to make their next apartment or home feel more welcome. 

The Biddeford TLP will run for a length of two years, serving a total of 12 youths ages 16-24. We are still looking for a few items for tenants. 

This program is possible thanks to the contributions and partnership of Governor Mills, the Biddeford Housing Authority, and the MaineHousing!

We still need a few more items for the tenants. Please consider donating, using our Amazon wishlist!

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